Reviewers – Don’t Abuse Your Power!

I just got off the phone with a very shaken and upset business owner. He was given a terrible review on Yelp that has quickly started ranking on Google for many of his critical keyword phrases.

After the reading the review, I can see it was put together in the heat of the moment and much of the issue could have been resolved offline.

As consumers, review sites have given us a power we’ve never had before: the ability to publicly out a business that has conducted themselves in poor manner. But with power comes responsibility. We should be using these review sites as absolute last resorts if we are unable to work out the issue with the business. In this case, the business owner is going out of his way to make the situation right, even though much of the issue was caused by the icy weather we had here in Atlanta.

What can be learned from this situation?

As consumers, don’t be in such a rush to publicly shame a business. Think about the impact your review can have on the people behind the business. Instead, communicate with the business offline and only use these public forums as last resorts.

As businesses, we need to continue to be proactive in getting our champion customers to write positive reviews about us. Remember, people are far less motivated when they are happy than when they are upset. We need to encourage our happy customers to get out on these sites and share their experience.

I hope this situation gets resolved and the reviewer edits their review with how the business responded.

That’s the right thing to do. 

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Reviews can truly help or hurt our businesses. It may seem like you can’t do much to control what’s posted, but here are some tips on growing your positive reviews and handling the negative ones:

  • Don’t wait around for the one unhappy client to write a nasty review – be proactive and protect your reputation by getting good customers to tell the world why you’re the best.
  • Request those reviews from good customers. Some ways to do this include: sending an email marketing piece, getting your staff to ask their customers at the appropriate time, using social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, and placing an in-store sign in an obvious place.
  • Establish a presence on review sites. Whether it’s Google+ or Yelp, set up a presence that makes sense for your business. For Google+, claim ownership or your local business page. After this, get to work by populating it with great reviews.
  • Respond to negative reviews. My advice is to sleep on it first and take all the emotion out – respond strategically and diplomatically. Try to make the situation better and turn the critic into a champion. People respect a business that makes an effort in customer satisfaction.
You never know when someone – right or wrong – may decide to publicly share their dismay for you or your business. If that review is up against fifteen positive ones, people might not pay attention to it. But if it is the lone review, I promise that they will.

Find (and use) the Right Review Sites

When you’re deciding where to eat or which service to use, what’s the first thing you do?  Probably look online! And part of this process is finding a product or service with good, solid reviews. Using third party review sites show up in Google searches, and they can be a great way to gain business. So as a business owner, your customers literally do the selling for you!

The first step is determining which third-party review sites should have your attention. 

The process for this is fairly simple:

  • Perform a few Google searches for critical keyword phrases in your industry and see which sites rank on the first few pages.
  • Determine which sites are popular in your area. For example, in the south, is a very popular directory for many service businesses.
  • Know that some sites are stricter than others when it comes to owner-solicited reviews. attempts to filter out reviews it believes were solicited by the owner of the business. You will just have to work within the rules of each directory and do the best you can.